One thing that made me want to put off having children for the first few years of our marriage was the fear of raising a family in the crazy world we live in.
Being a journalist I'm very aware, and sometimes jaded by all of the sadness in the world. I haven't grown to be fearful, rather just disappointed in people and their actions.
I've always been a somewhat sensitive person. I'd come home crying from kindergarten class when a classmate would claim I was ugly because of my dark skin.
My mother was just being introduced into this world of childhood bullying (well, from the "mom" perspective that is) since I am her oldest. She quickly learned though, after putting on her mama bird suit and visiting with my teacher asking what in the world was going on.
After her run in with my teacher, and finding that kids can just be mean sometimes, she decided to deal with situations at home with us, unless they got really bad.
I see myself having the same reaction my mother did initially for just about any negative response towards my little girl. I feel like I want to shield her from the crazy, rude, and harsh world we live in. I know that's not necessarily the right thing to do because one day she'll have to grow up and wake up, but I wonder if there's some happy medium.
My sensitivity sadly didn't go away after kindergarten. I grew up in the heart of Georgia. I remember reading a newspaper article when I was a sophomore in high school, about a school not far from us having their first desegregated prom. This was a glimpse of some of the racism I was raised around.
Kids in my high school thought it was cool to wear confederate flag tees that said, "If this shirt offends you it's made my day."
I didn't understand it, and I still don't understand how people can intentionally try to hurt people's feelings, or how people could dislike someone purely for the way they look, or what color they are.
The thought of my daughter coming home from school, crying because someone called her a name puts me to tears already. Thinking there could be a day where she confides in me, saying a boy she liked told her he doesn't like black girls makes me cringe, and brings back a flood of my own memories. But bad experiences aren't just surrounding issues of race. There's weight, religion, social class, and so much more.
Experiences I had growing up made me who I am today, and definitely made me a stronger person. I'm not going say I'm not still sensitive, oh I am, but I've learned to let things go, and not get to me. I've also learned to have more compassion for people myself.
I don't know if I'll be able to have the same kindness for people who make my baby cry, or people who question my parenting choices, but I at least have to try.
I've asked some of the most remarkable mothers I know how they do it—How they manage to keep a positive outlook on humanity, and how they have the courage to bring more and more children into the world. Often I hear a similar response: "if we don't raise good people, who will?"
I guess I'll have to remember that as I try to teach my daughter to have thick skin, but love and treat people how she wants to be treated.
What do you do when someone says something rude about your child? How do you shield them from negativity but not hide them from reality?
Visit Jennifer's personal blog BabyMakinMachine.com.